Part of the power of the human mind is being able to see far beyond itself.. – Hank Green
I found myself tweeting a book on Twitter, which I am sometimes wont to do, and I remember thinking to myself i said “you know? This would make a good blog post.” I got other stuff I’ve written down on yellow legal pads which I’ve been meaning to transcribe into this thing, but they’re sitting there not getting transcribed cuz it’s like “do i want to give myself dictation or do I want to play DCUO all afternoon?” Which would you pick? So I launch into this wordpress thingy to pick up where I left off in Twitter, and I realize for this to make sense I’ll need to backpeddle a bit and now I’m looking over my own recent tweets and I don’t know where to start. Frankly, a lot of this I’ve talked about before. Another Tweeter named Hannah123mcg posted this, which I’ve seen before but it reminded me of something that happened to me a few weeks ago..
A few weeks ago I found myself arguing with some acquaintances that I’ve known for months maybe even years but not in any intimate capacity. I don’t know if we were friends but they’re far from enemies, at least before a few weeks ago. They didn’t know I’m atheist or maybe they forgot. I certainly don’t hide the fact, I’m not smart enough to stay in the atheist closet (and yes gay people, we atheists apparently have a closet too. I didn’t know about it until I’d already jumped out and gone boo a few times. too late to go back in now). We got to talking about how gays are being treated and how the people I was speaking with have personal subjective reason to believe marriage is a sacred institution divined by their god whereas I have personal subjective experience to reason that it is SO not. As the argument got a little heated I pointed out that I am not gay but I have participated in a straight divorce, “and I can tell you divorce does more damage to the institution of marriage than two guys falling in love with each other could ever do.”
You coulda heard a pin drop.
They’re shunning me now, those acquaintances I mistook for friends. We haven’t spoken in weeks. And I’m rather okay with that. The weird thing to me is, back when I believed in the Abrahamic god, I was very homophobic myself. Still am in a way I guess. I mean I can see rationally that I have no rational argument against homosexual behavior, but if a guy tried to pick me up I’d probably hop up on a nearby chair and go “eek!” Not literally, but y’know what i mean. It’d freak me out. And I take solace in the fact that I’m no spring chicken and I look in the mirror and don’t find myself very attractive, but then that doesn’t seem to stop some people. I’m sure there’s someone out there that finds me attractive. People of both genders. Ew. I’d question the taste of anyone who looks at what I’m seeing in the mirror and would want to rub up to that. I mean really. I know where this body’s been.
Anyway. Let’s just say I’m a recovering homophobe. I get it’s irrational, but that doesn’t stop me from putting gay men in the same category with really big spiders and stray dogs that froth at the mouth. I got no problem with their existing in this universe. Just don’t get within striking distance cuz I do have a cane and I’m not afraid to use it… It’s a collapsible cane. Swinging it is rather gay. Limp-wristedly gay. Totally useless in any fighting capacity but I’ll still do it. And yes rationally I know there are gay men in the military who could kick my ass. You really aren’t getting the multi-faceted subtleties in my sense of humor, are you? And perhaps back when I was Christian and even still now I’m a little afraid I may be gay myself. Or at least bi-curious. Maybe that’s where homophobia stems from, for some people? I’ve objectively witnessed what sexually excites me and it’s women. Especially curvy women. Ladies smell nice. They’re usually less hairy. They fascinate and frustrate me more. When it comes to porn, I only want women in my porn. If a guy’s in the shot I’m usually turned off. I actually lose my erection. Lesbian porn is the best cuz it’s just women. Guys just get in the way. So I don’t feel actually being gay is my problem, but that might be the problem for some people, Believers or ex-Believers. If there isn’t a god, then there’s nothing stopping a person inclined that way to need to accept themselves for who they are be it straight gay crooked or whatever, and admittedly some people couldn’t handle what they might find if they allowed themselves to objectively contemplate that. And there IS no god, so there’s nothing stopping me from being gay, except for the fact I lose my erection. Perhaps that’s the deciding factor? I dunno, I’m a college drop out.
I didn’t start this blog post to talk about being gay. I’m sure there are psychologists who would have a field day with this one. Lemme get back on track. When arguing about this kind of stuff with Christians, being an ex-Christian myself, I’m stymied by the number of times I learn that the person I’m arguing with hasn’t actually done their homework. I mean when I was a Believer the vast majority of knowledge I had about the bible up until college (it was a Methodist college so I had to take courses that forced me to read the bible for myself) was from Sunday School. I didn’t bother to read the bible cover to cover myself as a kid cuz I’d just go to Sunday School and listen to the teachers and youth directors and preachers tell me what was in it. They’d take a passage and moderate a discussion about it. Read a verse or two and then ask us what we thought about that. I thought that was enough. It wasn’t. Cuz they skipped over stuff. Read what happens to Lot’s daughters after Lot’s wife turns to salt. Now THAT made me wanna hop up on a chair and go “eek!”
However, in that debate I had a few weeks ago that led to being shunned by people I thought were friends, I realized these people didn’t know that Jesus said more against divorce than he did against homosexuality. In Matthew 5:31-32 Jesus makes it very clear if you have a divorce for any reason (other than “immorality”) then when the two of you remarry others, you’re committing adultery (that’s breaking a whole commandment), cuz in the eyes of Jesus you can’t get unmarried. What god brought together let no man put asunder, right? Jesus says you might get a certificate of divorce from Man, but God doesn’t give a shit. Okay. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist. Look it up yourself. My point is Jesus actually said something negative about divorce. Back in biblical times, homosexuality wasn’t called that. It didn’t really have a name. There are verses in the old testament that refer to such behavior (Sodom and Gomorrah story kinda mentions it as does Leviticus), and Saul of Tarsus had a few nasty things to say about homosexuality in The Pauline Letters, but Jesus himself never really directly addressed this issue. Okay he talked with some eunuchs and he aided a roman centurion who was dying.. some people have read into some of Jesus’ behavior to try to glean which side he was on. The source material doesn’t give us enough evidence either way. It’s like people reading Batman comics and trying to prove just how close Bruce Wayne is to his ward. After awhile you’re just stretching and it gets foolishly silly.
This lack of direct words from Jesus on the topic of gayness has left a wide margin of open interpretation about the issue in the eyes of many believers. Naturally, if you are gay yourself, then you’ll look at Jesus curing a centurion with perhaps some bias. If you’re homophobic, you’ll see the same event in a different way. Now Saul of Tarsus was an outright homophobe. He’s said some nasty stuff. I could surmise that “Paul” spent a lot of time in jail and had been a Roman guard.. he might have had some personal gay demons he was wrestling with himself that affected his opinion, but that’s speculation on my part. Even though Saul didn’t like homosexuality, that bias was not later included in the gospels Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John. Yes, the gospels were written AFTER most if not all Pauline letters, even though the Roman Catholic Church made a point to put these books of the bible out of the order in which they were written, which I find rather intentionally misleading.
So when I’m arguing with Believers who don’t understand any of this, that Jesus had more to say about divorce than he did being gay, and that Jesus made a point to say divorce is sinful but did not feel strong enough about homosexual behavior to even mention it much less denounce it, well it’s like arguing with a fan of Twilight that REAL VAMPIRES DO NOT TWINKLE IN THE SUNLIGHT DAMMIT! THEY COMBUST! A fan of Twilight may or may not know this, but that’s not what they were told so they don’t care. And since vampires aren’t real I’m a fool for arguing the point anyway, but VAMPS DON’T TWINKLE DAMMIT! IT’S WRONG!
This carries over into so many other areas of debate though. Evolution is just one of many examples but this thing’s already longer than I originally intended so let’s focus on that one. There are Believers who insist that Science is the opposite of intelligence and wisdom. They believe the only science that we should accept is science that happens to confirm what The Bible already says. Muslims are even worse about this but Christians are pretty bad. If a branch of science doesn’t confirm the Bible, well that’s the work of The Devil obviously and it’s leading people astray from the true word of God. And I’m like, how can I even debate these people when their brains are so far away from actual objective legitimate reality “as to treat The Flinstones like a documentary” to steal from Lewis Black.
Evolution is a thing. A Believer hears that evolution is a theory and they think it means it’s someone’s opinion and can be easily dismissed, but there’s a difference between EVOLUTION THE THING and the multiple variants on the theory of evolution that try to marry the many facts of evolution together into a coherent whole. Here. Hank Green of SciShow explains this better than I can.
So when arguing with Abrahamic Believers I feel like I’m the one at a disadvantage, but I’m not.
Have you ever tried to argue with a five year old why it’s time to go to sleep now? You have all the facts you have authority you have the remote control to the TV you have a CLOCK you have a note from their parents that says “nine o’clock is bedtime” in unerasable ink.. you have everything! And yet somehow this little five year old pipsqueak is still defying all of reality by asking for a glass of water. How can you deny the kid a glass of water? You know this is just a delaying tactic that’s buying the kid more time not going to sleep, but you can’t not get him fucking water. GRRR! ARGH! Then you come back after getting him a glass of water and he’s passed out despite himself. BUT SOMEHOW HE WON! GAHH!!
Evolution is a thing. No we don’t have all the answers, but we have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the world was not created magically six thousand years ago by a god like being who didn’t use evolution to do it. We have ample evidence to prove this universe is over thirteen billion years old. This Earth is over four billion years old. There are fossils of creatures which no longer exist that are millions of years old, but their genetic makeup and physical skeletal characteristics have similarities to that of ourselves and other creatures alive today.
When the bible was written thousands of years ago the people behind the bible may have had authority to boss around their sheepish followers, but they didn’t have all the facts. And we still don’t have all the facts now, but we do have more knowledge than they did. I think it’s very telling that the tree which the Abrahamic god told Adam and Eve not to eat from was THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. The Abrahamic god needed to keep Adam and Eve stupid, or else they wouldn’t need him anymore.
[what follows, edited and expanded, are the original tweets that instigated this stupid blog post]
The book of Genesis is a small-minded creation story, written by small-minded ppl who didn’t know about the X chromosome. It’s okay to accept this. It’s okay to realize that we used to believe this but we don’t have to anymore. We know better. What’s not okay is still insisting Genesis is true in the wake of all this evidence that we were not created by a god, but evolved over time. If in fact a godlike creator instigated everything, it used evolution to do it, and that’s NOT what Genesis claims. Abrahamics is wrong. Irrevocably and unapologetically wrong. If there was some kind of entity that YOU might call a god, which sparked the universe into being, I don’t call it a god. Cuz it’s not. This comes down to defining what a god actually is, and that’s where some people like to move goal posts around. It’s annoying. It’s more annoying than the five year old “can ah hav a glas o wada pweaz?” tactic.
I wish to wake up one day and see that TakeThatDarwin has no “if evolution is real why are there still monkeys” tweets to retweet. That’s like saying “if math is real then how come two plus two still equals five?” Anyone who says this obviously doesn’t get math. And if they don’t want to learn math, but want to continue to add as if two plus two equals five, what are we supposed to do when those people grow up to become accountants and architects and anything else that requires math? Orwell warned us about this, but if nobody bothers to read anymore, his harbinger will fall on deaf ears and dumb brains.
We have already moved far beyond this. So many human beings want to wallow in the past, but we gotta move forward, if we hope to not end up like the dinosaurs did. We must continue to evolve. Maybe belief in something bigger than us is what got us out of the primordial muck or out of the oceans or it got us to climb up into the trees or climb down from the trees or maybe it’s what got us out of caves and got us moving nomadically. Maybe belief in a deity got us to stop being nomads and start cultivating the world we believed a god had given us. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. What I DO know is that the tribal differences that religions cultivate in humanity now is what gives us excuses to wage war with each other. THEY are wrong. WE are right. Might makes righteous.
I’m not right about science cuz I believe in it. I don’t. It’s accurate, even though I don’t believe in it. I’m not personally particularly excited about the idea of being a distant cousin to monkeys. I don’t relish the thought. When I believed in a magical creator, I used to be one of those people who went around proudly saying “if we evolved from monkeys how come there are still monkeys?” And I thought that was a smart thing to say. I believed I was being smart when I said it. I’m not right now cuz I believe we evolved from primates. We ARE primates by definition. Science is right cuz it works. Not cuz someone told me my soul will be spared if I accept it. It just is. Evolution is a thing.
It’s not that those of us who don’t believe anymore want to persecute those who still do. It’s more like this: we got a big day tomorrow. I know you enjoyed yesterday and you saw things differently back then, than we do now, but you need to put down those toys from yesterday and get ready for tomorrow. Get some sleep and wake up refreshed, cuz the next ten thousand years are gonna make the past ten thousand years look like a cake walk.
And no, you can’t have a glass of water.